With the forthcoming Yabby Farming Field Day at Griffith NSW coming up this review of the CSIRO Super Yabby research program and background information is essential for all attendants.

Back in 1998 the CSIRO Livestock Industries at Chiswick near Armidale NSW self funded a research project aimed at increasing the productivity of farms through genetic improvement of yabby stocks. The research program was led by Dr Dean Jerry who’s vision and dedication to the aquaculture industry drove this project. Dean was our hero at the time and had the full support of the NSW Aquaculture Industry.

The program continued under the leadership of geneticist Dr Ian Purvis to fruition in 2005 culminating in the release of “SUPER YABBY” stock to the commercial yabby industry. The following is some information that should be of interest to every yabby farmer.

Farm Dam Yabbies
NSW Farm Dam Yabbies


Historically the CSIRO at Armidale (http://www.csiro.au/Portals/About-CSIRO/Where-we-are/New-South-Wales/FD-McMaster-Lab.aspx) started as a sheep research facility in the 1950’s. However, due to the decrease in wool and other commodity products that occurred in the mid 1990’s the CSIRO was looking for something sheep farmers could diversify into and identified yabbies/aquaculture as the option with the most potential. In mixed farming situations, risk spreading strategies such as diversification outside the traditional commodity mixes, can enhance economic stability and yabbies seemed ideal.

At the time the initial research was instigated, the CSIRO had the success of the West Australian model of farm dam harvesting of yabbies to look at, plus forthcoming changes to regulations in NSW and Victoria which would allow farm dam harvesting of yabbies to occur was encouraging. NSW alone has approximately 150,000 hectares of suitable water for extensive aquaculture of yabbies in the western zone. This creates massive potential to increase production of yabbies. Even at low yield rates of 300 kgs/ha/year that is still 45 million kilograms of potential yabbies.

Farm dam harvest in WA yields 400-650kgs/ha/year and purpose built extensive yabby ponds can produce up to 800kgs/ha/year and intensive yabby farming is special ponds can produce up to 2500kgs/ha/year.

The CSIRO and Dean Jerry started research in 1998 with four main aims:

  • To produce a yabby more suitable for commercial yabby ponds.
  • To produce a yabby more profitable to grow commercially.
  • To produce a consistent marketable product.
  • To explore diversification options (Silver Perch/Murray Cod).

The Search for Fast Growing Stains of Yabbies

Dean and the team started with an extensive search for naturally fast growing strains of yabbies. He finally selected 5 basic strains of yabbies from very diverse environments. From western Queensland, north western NSW, western NSW, the NSW Snowy Mountains and western Victoria yabbies were collected and sent to the CSIRO animal laboratories at Chiswick NSW.

(You need to be a member of the NSWAA to read the balance of this article: Includes, reports, scientific papers, photos of migrating yabbies and super yabbies etc.)